Tag Archives: traffic problems

OAKAMOOR PARISH COUNCIL STRONGLY AGAINST LAVER LEISURE’S PLANS FOR MONEYSTONE QUARRY. SEE FULL DETAILS OF THEIR REASONS BELOW.

Planning Application: Moneystone Quarry SMD/2014/0682

Dear Sir,

Oakamoor Parish Council have reviewed this application and submit the following representations:

 

  1. Traffic

It is clear that this is a major concern for the parishioners of Oakamoor and in the view of OPC, for good reasons:

  • Safety of Drivers: Access to, and egress from, Moneystone Quarry is via a narrow lane, and from the Oakamoor Village, negotiation of a 1 in 5 hill (one of the steepest in the country) and blind bends is necessary. The road was clearly not designed to accommodate more than light use. The large increase in vehicle numbers and the change of dynamic of the type of driver the majority of drivers being unfamiliar with the route who will be challenged with negotiating the existing road width, the steep incline, and the acute bends, (exacerbated in severe winter weather, when the road can remain ungritted and snow uncleared for days), will seriously compromise the safety for vehicle occupants. Additionally, the proximity of the site to Alton Towers which may have informed the applicants decision to progress the development in this location will generate further traffic on Carr Bank. We are aware of the applicants assertions that signage will direct traffic from Moneystone to Alton Towers via the A52. We are equally aware that drivers will ignore advisory signage, and rely on incar Satellite Navigation to direct them via the shortest route, via Carr Bank, and Farley Road (already an RTA hotspot). OPC are unaware of any provision for road widening, straightening or levelling, and therefore believe that as a result of the above, the development will pose unacceptable dangers to motorists using this stretch of road.

 

It should be noted that OPC are aware of three accidents on Carr Bank in the last month.

 

  • Safety of Cyclists and Pedestrians: The terrain of the Churnet Valley and particularly the Oakamoor area attracts high (and growing) numbers of both visiting and local cyclists and walkers. Given the aforementioned access road features, OPC believe that the proposal will seriously compromise the safety of these groups.

 

  • Safety of Horse Riders: We understand that the site neither contains, nor connects with any bridleways. Riders would therefore be forced to utilise the same public highways ie Whiston Eaves Lane and Carr Bank. Again, given the features of this road,OPC believe that this will create significant dangers to persons on horseback.

 

  • Traffic impact on parishioners quality of life: With the continuing exponential growth of Alton Towers, Whiston Eaves Lane / Carr Bank is being increasingly used by visitors (who typically are unfamiliar with the terrain) and workers (who are often racing against the clock) as a rat run to this attraction. This is creating justified anxiety for parishioners who reside on this road. The development of another large attraction, to which access / egress can only be via Whiston Eaves Lane / Carr Bank will obviously increase numbers of vehicles being driven by those unfamiliar with the challenging road conditions both during construction and on completion of the development. This will only further diminish the quality of life for the occupants of dwellings sited on these roads.

 

  1. Conformance to the Churnet Valley Masterplan Principles:
  • Principle 1: ‘Ensure that communities are at the heart of the Churnet Valley’

Recently OPC held an open day for Parishioners to better understand the application. A questionnaire prepared by the Parish Council was completed by 90% of attendees. Of those who completed the questionnaire, 90% were NOT in favour of the development. If SMDC are to truly conform to the principles of the Churnet Valley Masterplan, then the Parishioners overwhelming view; that the development is inappropriate, should carry sizable weight in the decision making process.

 

  • Principle 2: Respect, enhance and protect the positive aspects of the Churnet Valley :

“by sustaining and enhancing the existing qualities and assets of the Churnet Valley which make the area unique”

“by ensuring that future development responds to and is sympathetic with the environmental, ecological and landscape limits and makes appropriate provision for the management of land and features for nature conservation and heritage and the enjoyment of areas of wildlife and geological interest”

“by ensuring the nature and scale of development is appropriate to its locality this may mean limited or no development is appropriate for parts of the Valley”.

 

○ The most positive aspects of the Churnet Valley are: its natural beauty, its tranquility, its flora & fauna, its physical and geological assets, and its pretty small villages / settlements which intersperse the natural landscape. To sustain and enhance the natural assets obviously requires careful management of visitor numbers. The proposed development will in one fell swoop double the human habitation of the Southern end of the valley from (and including) Oakamoor to Whiston villages. This will, undoubtedly, dramatically reduce the tranquility of the surrounding countryside, diminish its natural beauty and potentially negatively impact its flora and fauna. It neither responds to, nor is it sympathetic to the environmental, ecological or landscape limits of its surroundings.

 

○ As previously outlined, many of the roads in and around Moneystone and Oakamoor suffer from very high traffic levels as a result of Alton Towers. Carr Bank & Whiston Eaves Lane remain relatively peaceful, and as a result, form part of the quiet countryside which is seen as such a positive aspect by residents, and the very reason visitors are attracted to this area. It is the view of Oakamoor Parish Council, that the positive aspects of the Churnet Valley must be respected and protected, and that this development runs counter to the aims of this principle.

 

Given that in the Churnet Valley, the “Family Fun” offer already (in terms of visitor numbers) completely overwhelms the “Countrysiders” segment, and that recorded in the CV Masterplan, the Countrysiders are considered to be the predominant target visitor group, it stands to reason, that no further development of this sector is appropriate for this part of the valley.

 

  • Principle 3: ‘Support local enterprise and create local employment opportunities’

Interpreting the CV Masterplan as it is intended, the proposed development is clearly not ‘local enterprise’.

○ The unemployment rate in 2013.14 in the Staffordshire Moorlands was 4.1% , compared with a national average of 7.5%. The number of persons out of work in the Churnet ward in 2011 (latest available figures) was 24.

○ The type of jobs created will broadly mirror those at Alton Towers.

○ The 2012/13 Annual Monitoring Report identifies the need for higher skilled jobs in the  Staffordshire Moorlands. OPC believes that the real employment benefits for “local” people are negligible.

 

  • Principle 4: ‘Improve accessibility and connectivity’ : “by addressing traffic hotspots”

As previously outlined in (1), Oakamoor is already suffering substantially increased levels of traffic due to the continuous expansion of Alton Towers. This development will undoubtedly create a “traffic hotspot” in Oakamoor, for which the applicant is unable to proffer any workable solutions.

 

  • Principle 5: ‘Deliver Quality & Sustainable Tourism’

by facilitating the development of the Churnet Valley as a visitor destination whilst respecting the environment”

“by promoting increased tourism and economic prosperity without causing harm to essential qualities of landscape, ecology, heritage and remoteness that the Churnet Valley is recognised for”

“by promoting a year round visitor offer and dispersing visitors to increase benefit to the local economy by focusing on quality rather than quantity”

“by giving preference to incremental improvements which support existing businesses”

OPC asserts that the proposed development is inconsistent with all of the above requirements of Principle 5.

 

  1. Meeting the needs of the Tourism offer in the Churnet Valley
  • The Churnet Valley Masterplan SPD (Sustainable Tourism and the Masterplan Principles section 5.1.18) highlights the importance of the visitor group ‘Countrysiders’ …… In summary, the focus of the Masterplan should be around attracting ‘Countrysiders’, with or without children, who best fit the offer and are most likely to be attracted by a rural destination, with a distinctive and quality offer…….
  • The Churnet Valley Masterplan SPD (Glossary section 11.0.1) defines the term

‘Countrysiders’: Visitors primarily coming for a combination of experiences – activities, discovery / sightseeing, and rest and relaxation . Outdoor activities will be the predominant activity, but the natural environment / scenery will be a key underpinning appeal, [they] will however undertake a range of activities while staying in the area including heritage and natural history and will have a propensity to travel around / explore. They will be staying for an additional holiday / short break – typically in independent accommodation (B&B, self catering) – typical length of stay will be 2 to 3 nights or 6 to 7 nights. Demographically they will primarily be middleaged couples – travelling from a wide area. The Countrysiders are the main backbone of staying visitors to the Moorlands and most closely aligned with the visitor profile of the wider Peak District.

 

It is the view of OPC that the offer contained in this application, does not fulfill this criteria. Moreover and more disconcerting the development would have a negative impact on the numbers of ‘Countrysiders’ wishing to visit the area, due to the impact whether by traffic, site noise, or sheer numbers of people concentrated in the Southern end of the valley (saturation) on the ‘rest and relaxation’ of the targeted visitor group. If Countrysiders are seen in the Churnet Valley Masterplan as “the main backbone of staying visitors” then the impact of any development which potentially obstructs or negates achievement of this aim should be given very, very careful consideration.

 

  1. Site:
  • The NPPF clearly states that “land that has been developed for minerals is not “Previously Developed Land” , therefore, the Quarry is not a brownfield site. The quarry was located due to the presence of silica in the area. No other large scale industry would have been granted permission to operate in this location. Similarly, now economically removable reserves of silica have been exhausted, we believe that Moneystone Quarry should be viewed no differently than an unsullied countryside location.

 

  • There remains an extant restoration plan which we understand is still not complete.

It is the view of OPC, that before any site development proposal is considered by SMDC the restoration plan should be completed.

 

  1. Conformance to the Adopted ‘Staffordshire Moorlands Core Strategy’:

The Churnet Valley is identified as an area for sustainable tourism and rural regeneration, and SS7 clearly outlines fundamental principles within this aim:

  • “Any development should be of a scale and nature and of a high standard of design which conserves and enhances the heritage, landscape and biodiversity of the area and demonstrate strong sustainable development and environmental management principles. The consideration of landscape character will be paramount in all development proposals in order to protect and conserve locally distinctive qualities and sense of place and to maximize opportunities for restoring, strengthening and enhancing distinctive landscape features. ”

 

OPC assert that not only, does the proposed development does not support any of these principles, it is in fact contradictory to the underlying tenet contained within this statement.

 

  • The Spacial Strategy for the Staffordshire Moorlands states: “ In the smaller villages there will be limited development only, principally for local housing needs and rural diversification, whilst the countryside areas outside market towns and villages, including hamlets and other small settlements, will be subject to strict control over development with an emphasis on meeting essential rural needs promoting environmental enhancement including landscape and biodiversity, and on encouraging appropriate economic diversification and tourism. In order to facilitate development ‘Infill Boundaries’ will be defined for the smaller villages within which appropriate development would be allowed. Major developed areas in the countryside will also be identified where an appropriate range of uses would be permitted to support rural needs .”

Given that Oakamoor and Whiston are categorised as ‘Small Villages’ OPC would encourage SMDC to view the proposed development within the context of the above statement.

 

  1. NPPF Sustainability
  • Staffordshire Moorlands Core Strategy SS7 states: “ Sustainable tourism is tourism which takes account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, balancing the needs of visitors, the economy, the environment and host communities. Tourism development must not be at the expense of the special qualities of the Churnet Valley which draw so many people to the area. A very sensitive approach to the provision and expansion of facilities and accommodation will therefore be required to ensure that it is of an appropriate scale and design and compatible with the nature of the local area and enhances the heritage, landscape and ecology of the Churnet Valley”

 

OPC believe that SMDC should be commended in recognising the special qualities of the Churnet Valley within the Core Strategy and CV Masterplan documents. The challenge now for SMDC regarding this planning application, is to support the rhetoric with appropriate complementary actions. OPC believe that the proposed development, would be best described as Of in appropriate scale and design and in compatible with the nature of the local area and diminishes the heritage, landscape and ecology of the Churnet Valley”

 

  • In reviewing the Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework, the Communities and Local Government Committee recently highlighted the following: [ A recurring concern in our evidence was that greater emphasis was being given to the economic dimension of sustainable development than to the environmental and social ones.]

 

It is the view of OPC, that SMDC have tacitly supported the outline proposals created by the applicant from its inception, whilst maintaining an outward impression of a balanced, open minded, and impartial approach. OPC assert that SMDC have actually been influenced too heavily by the economic dimension, without due consideration being given to the environmental and social impact of such an outsized development. OPC request that SMDC review their approach to this application, with a greater emphasis on an equitable and consistent balance between the three facets of sustainable development as outlined in the NPPF. On completion of this we would postulate that the negative impact on the social and environmental facets would far outweigh the perceived economic benefits.

 

  1. Development and Management Principles

The Churnet Valley Masterplan SPD 8.5 Economic Development states: “New employment uses should preferably use existing rural buildings in locations which are well served from the main road network or be located in specific employment areas which are capable of serving businesses. Alternative uses for existing employment areas will only be supported where the premises or site is unsuitable or unviable for continued employment use”.

 

It is the view of OPC that the proposed development does not meet any of the criteria set out in this principle.

 

  1. Summary

It is clear to Oakamoor Parish Council that the proposed development fails to fulfill so many of the fundamental principles contained within the Churnet Valley Masterplan SPD, the appropriate elements of the Core Strategy, and the NPPF.

 

We therefore strongly oppose without reservation this planning application.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

 

Jeff Wood, Clerk to Oakamoor Parish Council

 

WHAT’S HAPPENING – MONEYSTONE QUARRY – A BRIEF UPDATE

  •  Laver Leisure Planning Application – Laver Leisure have submitted an application to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council for outline planning permission to develop Moneystone Quarry into a leisure facility including 250 holiday lodges.    The development will generate a massive increase in traffic for the villages of Oakamoor and Whiston on our narrow country lanes.   More details on the problems and what you can do to express your views will follow shortly on this web site.  To view details of the application visit the Staffordshire Moorlands planning website via the following link.
  • Solar Panel Array Application – A separate solar array planning application for the quarry has also been submitted and is listed for hearing before the Staffordshire Moorlands Planning Committee at 2pm on Thursday 27 Nov 2014.  There are concerns regarding the panels being a visual intrusion into the landscape and fears that damage will occur to the flora and fauna of the site.  There is still time to express any concerns you may have by visiting the SMDC website via the following link.  A Senior SCC planner raised concerns on 3/10/14 that the plateaux in Quarry 2 which the applicants intend to use to erect part of their solar array cannot be so used as it is in contravention of a scheme of restoration and aftercare that Laver Leisure has so far failed to complete.
  • Crowtrees Farm Equestrian Centre Application – Laver have currently withdrawn their application to establish an equestrian centre at Crowtrees Farm, but there is no guarantee that it will not be re-submitted in a different format.

 

Laver Application Moneystone Quarry – A52/Whiston Eaves Lane Safety

Laver ‘s recently submitted planning application for Moneystone Quarry raises serious concerns regarding inevitable increases in traffic on Whiston Eaves Lane at its junction with the main A52 road outside the Sneyds Arms.  The situation  presents potential safety issues for all road users.

The following photographs show the dangerous layout of the junction and in particular the very poor visibility for vehicles attempting to pull out of Whiston Eaves Lane onto the main A52

Sight line towards Froghall and Kingsley along A52
Sight line towards Froghall and Kingsley along A52

 

Sight line towards Ashbourne along A52
Sight line towards Ashbourne along A52
A52 from entrance to former Sneyd's Arms PH towards Frogall and Kingsley
A52 from entrance to former Sneyd’s Arms PH towards Frogall and Kingsley
View along A52 towards Ashbourne
View along A52 towards Ashbourne

 

A52 from near St. Mildred's church looking towards Ashbourne.  Whiston Eaves Lane on the right in the dip.
A52 from near St. Mildred’s church looking towards Ashbourne. Whiston Eaves Lane on the right in the dip.
An example of the HGV traffic on A52 on a quiet Thursday afternoon!
An example of the HGV traffic on A52 on a quiet Thursday afternoon!
HGV on A52 towards Ashbourne after just passing Whiston Eaves Lane on driver's RHS
HGV on A52 towards Ashbourne after just passing Whiston Eaves Lane on driver’s RHS

What’s Happening – Aug 2014 Update

WAG WEBSITE
WAG website has experienced problems caused by a virus that has now been eliminated. WAG has used the opportunity to update the site and to make it more user friendly and to prevent future difficulties. WAG apologises to anyone who has experienced difficulties in accessing the site in the last 2/3 weeks.

ONGOING ISSUES
WAG is currently involved in researching and making representations on the following issues;
1. A planning application for a change of use from farm and bed and breakfast accommodation to an Equestrian Centre made by Laver Leisure.
2. The planning application by The Solar Building Company of Monmouth for a solar farm at Moneystone under application SMD/2014/0432. If you wish to make representations you have until………WAG will post it’s representations shortly and when finalised.
3. The Laver ‘exhibition’ held at Whiston Village hall on 15 July 2014. Please note that by reading the details of the displays carefully Laver described the event as an ‘exhibition’ and Director Peter Swallow expressly confirmed that the display amounted to the forthcoming planning application and ‘would not change’. From comments made by at least two District Councillors , Josie Clowes and Brian Johnson, at the Laver exhibition, it is clear that they lacked factual knowledge of major proposals arising from Lavers plans. WAG intends to work to ensure all Councillors know the details of all salient facts and issues before deciding on the planning application when it is lodged.

YOUR CHANCE TO COMMENT
If you would like to make any comments on the above issues please feel free to do so.
Please watch for updates on the above specific issues and others, which will be posted here ASAP.

Traffic Chaos

A request for support from members of the public concerned about  tourism related traffic congestion in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Some of our councillors don’t appear to accept that existing levels of tourism generate considerable traffic issues at busy times in the Churnet Valley across a variety of routes and hot spot locations, including, Tittersworth, Rudyard, The Roches, Oakamoor and Alton.  For some time now Whiston Action Group has been gathering video and photographic evidence of existing traffic congestion throughout the Churnet Valley, showing that encouragement of further traffic pressure on our fragile road infrastructure is inappropriate.

WAG intends to expand and develop the evidence base of what increased tourism is already doing to our  roads in the Moorlands, and seeks the support of members of the public.   In this day and age of mobile camera technology it is easy to take a photo of any clogged roads you see whilst you are out and about.

WAG asks that you miss no opportunity to take those photos AND IF YOU HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO DO SO SEND THE PICTURES DIRECTLY TO COUNCILLOR SYBIL RALPHS AND ANY OTHER COUNCILLORS YOU WANT.

Sybil.Ralphs@staffsmoorlands.gov.uk

Please keep a note of the date, time and venue of the photos and let WAG know so that the data can be collated. There will be no need to forward the pictures to WAG as long as you preserve your own copy in case it is needed later.

This is an ongoing project and applies throughout the Churnet Valley  for the next twelve months.  Your contribution can help WAG fight inappropriate council proposals that are likely to exacerbate an already unacceptable situation.

 

AONB Petition by Churnet Valley Conservation Society

WAG welcomes the following request from Karen Seaton of the Churnet Valley Conservation Society, seeking your support for a petition aimed at achieving        Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status for the Churnet Valley.

 Karen Seaton CVCS Spokesperson says:

 “We are not so sure that people are aware that the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council Core Strategy was recently rejected by the Government Inspector, who found more than 70% of the points within it to be unsound. We feel that there is a very serious risk that, with the council floundering to complete their strategy documents, time may slip away and we will miss this important opportunity to protect and recognize the valley. We are asking people to contact Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and support us in two requests we have made to them:    

1. During the next public consultation phase for the Churnet Valley Master Plan include a simple question: Would you be in support of designating the area as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

2. Should it be apparent that the electorate of the area do wish to obtain this important designation for their area, that the District Council fully embraces the potential and opportunities AONB designation offers.

We are undertaking a four week long petition and contacting a range of people and organizations across the county asking that they support our call, and we are asking as many people as possible to contact their County, District, Town and Parish Councillors and ask them to pressurise Staffordshire Moorland District Council into action. “

 The Churnet Valley Conservation Society would be happy to discuss this further and I would be pleased if you could support or campaign for the designation of the Valley as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The petition is available across the area in shops, libraries, pubs etc. An on-line petition may also be found at https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/staffordshire-moorlands-district-council-support-area-of-outstanding-natural-beauty-status-for-the-churnet-valley

Or follow the link from http://www.churnet-valley-conservation.org/

Planning Inspector invites Objectors to rewrite Council’s Strategy for Churnet Valley.

The independent Government Inspector, Mr Patrick Whitehead, has at long last provided residents with the first genuine opportunity to have their say on the future of the Churnet Valley.

During a three day hearing this week at Moorlands House, Leek, the Inspector scrutinised the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s Draft Core Strategy Document to see if it is fit for purpose. The inspection was rigorous and follows an avalanche of public criticism of the Council’s plans during the consultation phase, when thousands of comments were made by local residents, the main issues being the so called “tourism corridor” and housing development allocations.

The scale of public interest was so great that the packed public hearing had to be moved to a larger room at one stage.  The Inspector heard evidence from Whiston Action Group representatives challenging excessive and unsustainable proposals for tourism development at Moneystone Quarry and other locations.   The hearing heard about the inadequacies of the road infrastructure to cope with existing tourism problems stretching from The Roaches in the north down to Alton in the south. The scale of development proposed by the Council was considered ill thought out, inappropriate and unsustainable.   Witnesses argued that better tourism, involving encouragement for small locally based businesses is required, not large scale tourism developments by outside commercial interests.    The Peak District National Park is already suffering from an excess of unsustainable tourist numbers and wishes to off load that excess to the Moorlands, despite the serious risk that the Churnet Valley will fall victim to the same problem.  Calls for the Council’s proposals to be scaled back considerably to a level that the area and residents can cope with were listened to with evident sympathy by the inspector who has taken the significant step of inviting objectors (mostly represented by WAG) to re-draft the key Churnet Valley Tourism section of the Council plan (Policy SS7), discuss their ideas with the District Council to achieve agreement if possible and then for him to review progress with a revised policy in two weeks.

 

WAG welcomes that recognition of its concerns and those of other objectors and is currently in the process of coordinating views to arrive at a revised draft policy for discussion with the District Council before responding to the Inspector’s invitation.

Over the next few weeks, the Inspector has said that he will be reviewing his proposed modifications to the Core Strategy before deciding whether the changes that he would wish to see can be incorporated satisfactorily or whether they are of such significance that he must return the Council’s Core Strategy for complete revision.

 

Nick Cresswell, WAG Communication Officer, said:-
After two years of frustration with a District Council that does not listen to local residents, WAG is pleased to see the intervention of an independent public enquiry and looks forward to the day when an eventual plan will be produced for the future of the Churnet Valley that genuinely reflects the needs of residents.”

Tittersworth Reservoir – Double Yellow Lines at Last

 

WAG’s publication of video recordings of longstanding traffic congestion problems at tourist “hot spots” along the Churnet Valley seems to have had some effect. On a recent visit to Tittersworth Reservoir the usual chaos of parked vehicles along the narrow country lane through to Meerbrook was seen to have been replaced by a new traffic free set of double yellow lines. Could it be that WAG’s video evidence gathering exercise was the catalyst that encouraged decision makers to sit up and take note of the existing traffic congestion issues associated with tourism in the Churnet Valley?
Perhaps they will now do something at the other end of the valley to address the more significant traffic issues associated with Alton Towers, where decades drift by with no effective action being taken.  Who wants more tourism when we can’t even deal with the problems we already have?
 

 

WAG Open Meeting attracts wide ranging public support.

 

WAG’s open public meeting at Whiston Village Hall on Friday evening (02 Nov 2012) attracted over forty members of the public, not only local residents but people from villages throughout the Churnet Valley and other parts of the Staffordshire Moorlands, demonstrating wide ranging interest in concerns raised by WAG. An opening statement emphasised that WAG’s rigorous evidence based approach is intent on passing on conclusions based on facts – not opinions or gossip. Presentations were given by several speakers on a variety of issues, the most contentious being the Core Strategy Submission; Village House Building Proposals; Laver’s failure to restore Moneystone Quarry in accordance with the legally binding restoration plan, and public health concerns regarding the contaminated site at the Old Bolton Copperworks.

The District Council’s Core Strategy document, consider by many to be neither legally compliant nor sound, is currently being considered by the independent Planning Inspectorate. The inspector, Mr Patrick Whitehead, is to hold a Pre-Hearing Meeting at 10am Tuesday 11 Dec 2012 at the Bethel Suite, Tape Street, Cheadle, where he will set out the procedure and arrangements for his formal examination to be held in February of next year at Leek Council Offices. Anyone who made representations about the Core Strategy is encouraged to attend.

The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), submitted as a last minute addition to the Core Strategy, raised many eyebrows. The document, compiled by SMDC officers in liaison with only landowners and developers, identifies and prioritises specific plots of land with housing potential in and around many villages in the Staffordshire Moorlands. Both during and after the meeting numerous attendees expressed their dissatisfaction with the complete absence of consultation by the District Council on this important issue.   The document has been submitted with the Core Strategy without public input.

On 11 Sep 2012 Laver Leisure circulated a letter to households in Whiston, Oakamoor and surrounding villages stating their intention of submitting within two weeks proposals to Staffordshire County Council to change the longstanding and legally binding requirement to restore Moneystone Quarry to farmland. No such application has been submitted and consequently, in the absence of any further communication from Laver to residents, a state of uncertainty exists within the community as to Laver’s future intentions.

The audience was surprised to learn that the Old Bolton’s Copper Works site is not recorded on the District Council’s contaminated land register, despite the council’s own specially commissioned Taylor Young Report identifying high levels of contaminants and a serious public health risk. In addition, a portfolio of evidence gathered from ex-employees pointing out precisely where contaminants are buried has been submitted to the council, who can have no excuse for failing to act. However, it is perhaps re-assuring that following representations from the Foxt Action Group the concerns have now been registered with the Environment Agency, with an investigation pending.

On a more positive note, there was considerable support for WAG’s Quiet Lane initiative, aimed at overcoming some of the tourist related traffic problems of increasing numbers of vehicles inappropriately using the Churnet Valley’s narrow country lanes. WAG has already received supportive comments from Karen Bradley MP, and now County Councillor Mike Worthington has been nominated by the Highway Authority to deal with the matter. WAG’s public survey of 100 road users demonstrated unanimous support from both residents and visitors. WAG’s proposal for a pilot scheme along The Red Road between Oakamoor and Alton, with suggested funding from Alton Towers monies committed as a condition under their last planning consent, is currently under consideration by Councillor Worthington. The pilot scheme would be a first step in achieving a network of Quiet Lanes in the core of the Churnet Valley, so that cyclists, horse riders and walkers could safely share our narrow lanes with slow moving vehicles driven with care and consideration.

Overall, a high level of enthusiastic support was received from attendees and after the meeting, Harry Blood, Chairman of Whiston Action Group, commented:-

 “I was very pleased with the turnout, particularly the interest and support shown by newcomers, as we continue to challenge inappropriate decisions that will affect our communities in the Churnet Valley for years to come. The importance of keeping locals in the picture on future plans for the Churnet Valley is exactly what the Government is expecting local councils to do. Sadly that message is largely ignored by SMDC. WAG is clearly filling a local need which is why the meeting went so well.”

 

Quiet Lanes in the Churnet Valley – interest from Karen Bradley MP

The WAG initiative encouraging Staffordshire County Council to give Quiet Lane designation to narrow lanes in the Churnet Valley has received welcome encouragement from Karen Bradley MP.  The initiative is aimed at encouraging drivers of vehicles to give greater consideration to walkers, cyclists and horse riders, thereby reducing road safety concerns emanating from sat-nav users and Alton Towers traffic taking short cuts on inappropriate roads.

Earlier in the year WAG conducted a survey of road users in the Churnet Valley the results of which demonstate wide support amongst both residents and visitors, across a wide spectrum of road users.

Extracts from Karen Bradley’s letter include:-

“You and the rest of the residents who have been involved in this project should be highly commended for the work that has gone into producing this piece of work.  The issue of “quiet lanes” in the Moorlands is something that I have raised previously in the House of Commons so it is pleasing to see you and other residents taking the initiative in this way.

I would be most interested to hear any further news about this project and will bear your comments in mind when I am talking to the relevant ministers.”

WAG is now progressing the initiative with County Councillor Mike Worthington, who has been nominated by Councillor Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council.